Boardwalk tenants see rent increase

The tenants of the city of Dunkirk’s Boardwalk Market will be paying more for their leases as they come up for renewal.

That was the outcome for the two tenants that were up for renewal when Common Council met Tuesday. Blind Tiger and Water’s Edge Gifts are now set for the next two years at the higher rate. Prior to the vote on resolutions 22- and 23-2014, Councilwoman Stacy Szukala had something to say.

“There’s been a lot of discussion on how to move forward with the Boardwalk businesses. I think that slowly we’re moving in the right direction on the prices that we’re charging for each spot,” she began. “I just want to point out that the last lease for the Blind Tiger was $3,528 a year; it’s going up now to $4,200 a year. Also, the spots that have water hookups are responsible for their own water at this time, which was not done in the past.”

Szukala added the lease for Water’s Edge Gifts was increasing from $3,192 to $4,200 with the same stipulations as Blind Tiger’s.

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce was clear about future leases, telling the OBSERVER as renewals occur they will be set at the same $4,200 annual rate.

“There was a lot of disparities in rent. I know the two that were up tonight were paying different rents for the same size space, so they’ll both be paying the same going forward,” he explained. “Part of their rent fees, we said we would share in some advertising cost with them and we’ll also be doing some maintenance to the Boardwalk. One thing we’ll be looking to do is replace some of the outdated signs and gutters. We feel the building needs gutters, otherwise we’re going to have problems with the blacktop because of the runoff.”

Dolce added that in addition to paying their own utilities including water, they pay a basic minimum for trash pickup. He was asked if once all tenants are at the $4,200 level if that would cover the debt service on the facility.

“Not even close,” he replied, “not even close. The annual payment is about $77,000 in principal and interest, we collect about $30,000.”

Asked where the rest of the payment comes from, Dolce said it was a taxpayer-subsidized market.

“It has been since it was established,” he added. “I think what we’re doing is, as these leases come up, we’re looking to strike a balance where we’re not increasing their rents too much. If you look at these two, … from what they were paying to what they will be paying is about a 27 percent increase, it’s substantial. And it still isn’t anywhere enough collectively for the eight to pay the debt service.

“We think we’re forming a pretty solid relationship with the Boardwalk tenants. Obviously it promotes the area, but there’s no doubt about it, it’s an investment that was made when it was established.”

Council also approved the appointment of Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak, who missed the council meeting, to the Chautauqua County Water Agency as its representative.

Dolce explained the spot was not part of the original makeup of the agency but was added.

“We voiced concerns for a few reasons on the formation of the agency late last fall when that was being proposed, he stated. “Their resolution was we’ll add a seat for you guys.”

Kiyak will be joining Dolce and county Legislator Keith Ahlstrom on the board.

“I believe the county reps are all north county reps, people who would be directly affected,” Dolce added.

Szukala did have a question during the meeting about another harborfront business and its recent repayment of a loan. Questions from residents about where that money from the Clarion Hotel was and why the city can’t use it were the concern.

“Is it city money, is it (Dunkirk Local Development Corporation) money?” she asked. “I was hoping you could clarify for the public record.”

“Those are federal funds that we are holding in our checking account … the DLDC’s, and they will be there until we are instructed what to do with them,” Dolce explained. “They are not our funds.”

He added it was “highly doubtful” that the money could be used for loans.

Comments to gsnyder@observertoday.com